This is the follow-up post to Reality Through Myths Surrounding The Montreal Canadiens
Myth Number 3: Carey Price Is Doing All The Work
Carey Price is the best goaltender in the league. He gets a lot of publicity for his play. Price has made incredible saves this season at key moments of games. With more than a quarter of the season still to play. Carey Price has cemented his place in both the Vezina and the Hart trophy conversations. Carey Price is not only the best goaltender on his team, he is the best player on his team.
Snoozed The Start of The Season
The Habs slept walked through the first games of the season. Carey Price along with them. Posting saves percentages of .889, .906, .826, and .862. After a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on October 13th , Carey Price was the first to wake up. A good thing for his team because if Carey Price wasn’t on his A game, the Montreal Canadiens wouldn’t stand much of a chance. Carey took it upon himself to keep the ship afloat. Thus setting the tone for much of the first half of the season. Le Bleu-Blanc-Rouge farcically gave up the first goal eight times in the first ten games. The power play was remarkably weak, often ruining their momentum. The Habs scored 3 power play goals in 29 opportunities, for a 10.3% efficiency. The Montreal Canadiens went 8-2-0 to open the season. There was no mistake that Carey Price deserved much of the credit.
No More Freebies
After the Christmas break, things have gotten drastically different. Price’s record of 11-2-1, his .946 SV% and 1.55 GAA in 14 games since December 29th is nothing short of extraordinary. He certainly deserves the lion share of his play and the Habs’ position in the standings, but to say it’s a product of him and him alone is just plain wrong.
The Montreal Canadiens have been a very good defensively as of late. Starting with what they can control. The Habs, especially defensemen P.K. Subban and Alexei Emelin, were often criticized for taking bad penalties. They have disciplined their play lately. Being shorthanded only three times in their last four games. They even beat their arch-rival Boston Bruins without taking a single minor.
No Room For Maneuver
They don’t give much room to their opponent’s star players either. A common misconception is that Carey Price faces too many shots. In that 14 games span, he faced more than 35 shots 4 times (36 shots twice, and 37 shots twice) and faced more than 40 shots only once, in a 42 saves shutout of the New York Rangers.
In their game against the Philadelphia Flyers on February 10th, Jakub Voracek (3rd best in points league wide) and Claude Giroux (7th best in points) were kept to only three and two shots on net . Including a breakaway for Giroux.
Carey Price made a great save there but you have to give some credit to Andrei Markov for skating back and taking the puck away immediately, avoiding any rebound chances. If it wasn’t for the delayed penalty, that puck would have been cleared out of the zone right away, keeping the damage to a minimum.
In three straight games, from January 27th to January 31st, Carey Price was in net to face the three best goal scorers in the league. All three were denied. Tyler Seguin was kept to only one shot on net. Rick Nash had three shots (of the aformentioned 42) in his last game vs the Habs. Only the vehement play of Alex Ovechkin was able to pierce the Montreal Canadiens’ defense, recording eight shots on net.
The defense is never far from the net and rarely out of position. It’s apparent that Carey Price feels very safe in his paint. Relaxed, he is in control of his options. He has enough confidence to play the puck outside of his paint, sometimes as far as the faceoff circle. He even goes to play the puck behind his net with opposing players crashing in. Which sometimes lead to plays like we’ve seen in the last game of the season sweep of the Boston Bruins
This myth deals much more in subtleties than the rest. Carey Price absolutely is the best player of his team. If he’s not the best goaltender in the league and league MVP then he’s nothing lower than second in both categories. But he also has a good defensive corps in front of him and that’s to say nothing of forwards Max Pacioretty, Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher and Dale Weise whom are all on pace to have career years in points this season. Tomas Plekanec is on pace to finish with his best point total since the 2010-11 season and David Desharnais is on pace for 50 points, two under his career best.
Hockey is a team sport. So much happens so quickly that no one man can control the game. Carey Price stands up when the team needs him to but let’s not forget that the team stands up for Carey when he needs them too.
Myth Number 4: Zach Fucale Is a Great Bargaining Chip
As the trade deadline approaches, a lot of the fun of being a hockey fan is making hypothetical deals. Zachary Fucale comes up a lot as a key player in trades.
Zachary Fucale has an impressive road sheet so far. He has known nothing but success since being drafted 11th overall by the Halifax Mooseheads in the 2011 QMJHL Draft. He was named to the All-Rookie team. Won the Memorial Cup with the Mooseheads and of course, won a gold medal with team Canada at the 2015 World Junior Championships.
Still, with all that winning, GMs would be reluctant to include him in a trade.
Mind Over Matter
Goalies are a fickle bunch. So much of their game is mental that performances go up and down like a roller coaster. More so than any other position in hockey. Former Vezina trophy winner Ryan Miller has long been seen as one of the league’s best. Last year, the Saint-Louis Blues gave up, among other things, a first round pick (maybe the pick used in the Evander Kane trade) for Miller’s services. Something the Blues certainly regret today. The Blues didn’t improve as they hoped and were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. Miller signed with Vancouver in the off-season.
This year, the Blues are counting on the duo of Brian Elliott and Jake Allen. St-Louis are fourth in the league.
Communists Love Goalies
The techniques and equipment goaltenders use now have evened the playing field. So much that they have destroyed their market. It gets harder and harder to score goals in the NHL and yet there are only a handful of star goalies and really no dominant goalie who can string a few Vezinas in a row like Dominic Hasek.
The Blues pay their two goalies $3.15 million total. The Anaheim Ducks were paying their duo $1.787 million before Frederik Andersen got hurt and signed Ilya Bryzgalov for $2.8 million. They are second in the league. Meanwhile, 28th place Carolina is spending $6.5 million on Cam Ward alone.
The 0.2 Difference
Average goalies like Ben Bishop (.910) and Anti Niemi (.913) are not that far behind of Carey Price statistically speaking. And what they lack in spectacular saves can be tweaked by an attentive, stingy defense. General managers are starting to see more and more that the cost of a world-class goalie is rarely worth it when you can get slightly less in play for a lot less in pay. Not to mention the possibility of your expensive goalie going cold and your inexpensive goalie catching fire.
The time it takes for a goalie to pan out added to the uncertainty of the results don’t make goalie prospects a great currency on the trade market. Teams looking for a goalie usually need one urgently and are only looking for a guy to plug the hole. Backups move for cheap. Jonas Enroth couldn’t fetch Buffalo more than a third round pick. Peter Budaj got Montreal Eric Tangradi, who only played seven games with the Montreal Canadiens this year.
The Ingredients Are There But The Sauce Has Yet To Stick
Fucale should stay in the Habs farm system. With Carey Price in net, Fucale has the luxury of going through his growing pains without the ”are you there yet?” pressure the Montreal market produces. Patience will allow him to learn his craft and as he nears the beginning of his prime and Carey Price nears the end of his, a choice will have to be made. Until then, we should all see Zachary Fucale for what he is. A second round pick with potential.